Receiving mail or packages while on the road is one of those logistical problems we werent quite sure how to handle during our trip. We knew people did it, but weren’t quite sure how. After some digging around on the internet we saw the term “general delivery” mentioned but no real instructions on how to do it. We figured that surely the USPS site would have more information. The USPS website has this to say about receiving mail via “General Delivery”:

General Delivery is a great choice for you if carrier service or a PO Box is not an option. Your mail will be held at your Main Post Office for up to 30 days and can be conveniently picked up at any retail window. This is also a great option if you don’t have a permanent address. To find your Main Post Office, please contact your local Postmaster.

Informative in a completely useless sort of way. No instructions on how to do it from an institution that is such a stickler for rules and regulations. After more searching we found different ways to format the address area and decided to give it a try.

Laura’s mom sent us some mail and winter clothing. It was a bit like witnessing teleportation. Neither of us really believed that our mail would find us and materialize on this island in the San Juans. Amazingly, it did and it felt like a mini-Christmas 🙂

To save you, our Dear Readers and fellow future vagabonds, potential problems with general delivery, here are some tips.

-Format your mail like this:
Your name(s)
City, State and ZIP CODE (very important)

-designate a responsible family member or friend to be your postmaster.

-Double check the zip code and location of the post office since that is the most important bit of information. We had mail sent to Orcas thinking it only had one post office when in fact it had a few of them. We ended up having to ride across the island to pick up our mail.

-You will need an ID to pick up your mail.

-Small towns are good places to send general delivery since they will have fewer branches. Large metropolitan areas will have several branches and you risk having to run around town trying to find the right office.

So this is the answer to how you can get mail while you travel. Hope it was helpful!